Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers: May 26 at the Shakedown
Story by Gary Washington
A little country, with a dash of blues and splash of folk rock music, Californian band Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers have been gaining quite a following these days. Nicki released her first album, Toby’s Song, back in 2008, with the help of musician and producer, Tim Bluhm, who had heard Nicki singing the blues at a party one night and prompted her to further explore her musical talents. The two were married a year later and the band was first formed with Nicki’s longtime friend and guitar player, Deren Ney. The additional talents of Steve Adams on bass (ALO), Dave Mulligan on rhythm guitar and drummer Mike Curry completed the band as it is today. Their most recent album “Driftwood” was released in 2011.
Nicki Bluhm’s sound has been described as a vintage-tinged rocking country soul that is reminiscent of such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Dusty Springfield, and a splash of Lynrd Skynrd. If you haven’t heard of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers yet, to get an idea of what they are about, Nicki Bluhm had this to say of the band, “We are a very song-centric band. We love the craft of a good song and stay relatively true to the way the songs were recorded. We definitely stretch out our songs at times but we also all appreciate the simplicity of a 3 minute song.”
The band has been staying busy touring, as well as by working on an additional project of a country band called Broke in Bakersfield that Nicki Bluhm and most members of the Gramblers are a part of. The band covers a lot of old country songs that came out of Bakersfield in the 60′s and 70′s; a lot of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.
Recently, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers filmed a cover of the Hall & Oates song “I can’t go for that” while they were on the road and driving in the tour van. The video has since gone viral with over a million views. That video, as well others, can be seen here at: http://www.youtube.com/user/nbluhm?feature=watch
Upon further exploration of what they have deemed the “Van Sessions,” a series of videos of the band singing various tunes in the van between tour dates, which can be found on her YouTube channel, I discovered a treasure of impressive covers of such songs as “Easy” by Lionel Richards, “Faith” by George Michael and “She’s got you” by Patsy Cline, just to name a few. The band is enthralled at the growing popularity of these van sessions. Still building and currently at 19 videos, we can expect more smooth sounding covers as their tour continues.
As is clearly evident in both the music and videos they produce, Nicki Bluhm and her band mates are magnificently in tune with each other musically. On the topic of how she achieves this sort of dynamic with her band, Nicki says:
“I think having four songwriters in the band makes for a very special collection of songs and energies that are all coming from different points of view. We have a real family vibe among us and all enjoy playing music together. We spend a lot of time with each other, even when we’re not on the road. I think the closeness we have with each other is reflected in our songs and in our playing. We are on an adventure together and the camaraderie we have is very strong.”
The band is excited for their first performance in Bellingham and, with the band’s energetic and harmonious sound as heard from their albums and videos, then we should be excited as well. So come on over this Saturday, March 26, when Nicki Bluhm and Gramblers will perform live with the Lumpkins and Plant Party at the Shakedown in downtown Bellingham.